A particular criticism has been hurled at liberals distraught by the Trump presidency since his election, especially at those who have taken to the streets in protest. Conservative pundits like Fox News’ Sean Hannity have accused liberals of being crybabies, who are unwilling or unable to deal with the election not going their way. Even the President-elect himself reached out on Twitter to take a jab at the protestors, pointing out that the same liberals who demanded the elections results be accepted are now protesting in the streets.
Many students here at NYU have no doubt heard this very insult in the last few weeks, given that is has become a part of anti-liberal vocabulary. Those who level with this accusation often believe that the culture of political correctness has gone too far and that it has prevented liberals from ever having to learn to cope with a devastating failure, as they are typically taught to find self-worth even within their losses. What these detractors and the President-elect are overlooking, however, is that the nature of these protests by no means undermines earlier calls from liberals for Trump to accept the election results.
During the final Presidential debate, Trump caused a massive uproar after hinting that he would not accept a loss on election night. His claims that he would “keep us in suspense” until the votes had been counted provoked backlash from liberals, who accused him of undermining the peaceful transfer of power upon which our democracy is built. Clinton supporters taking to the streets to protest Trump’s policies is different than Clinton supporters being empowered by their candidate to distrust the election process. Clinton unequivocally accepted the election results in her concession speech, which set her apart from her opponent and affirmed her supporters’ trust in their government. NYU students who have protested the election results are by and large not protesting the democratic process. Rather, they are protesting the campaign promises and behaviors of their President-elect that they oppose, which is the foundation of political protest.
It is ironic too that those who have taken to the streets in impassioned fervor are being labeled as crybabies. As someone who participated in the protests the night after the election, I can vouch for the fact that no one was crying as they marched on Trump Tower. Protesters right now are angry and emboldened, qualities that could not possibly be called symptoms of an oversensitive culture. On the contrary, they more than anyone have come to terms with reality and are doing everything in their power to do what they believe is right.
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A version of this article appeared in the Monday, December 5th print edition. Email Henry Cohen at [email protected]